JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Forty-seven thousand students ride the bus to and from Duval County schools every day at a cost of about $65 million a year.
One of only two companies contracted to take our kids to school safely daily is Student Transportation of America, or STA for short.
For over a year, Action News Jax Investigator Emily Turner has covered multiple issues involving STA, from overcrowded buses to students left behind at school.
Many of those same issues are still happening today.
You can get caught up on previous investigations on STA from Turner and the Action News Jax team by clicking here.
Action News Jax reached out to Duval County Public Schools and STA for statements on the status of operations now and received the following:
Duval County Public Schools:
“Thank you for the opportunity. Solving the transportation challenges we have experienced over the last two years is a priority for the district. We began our procurement process for this contract earlier this year in anticipation of STA’s contract expiring in June 2024. Through the procurement process, Durham emerged as the top company for this contract, and we look forward to the great service they will provide to our students and families.
“Additionally, we ask you remind viewers that driving a school bus right now would be a wonderful way to become part of our mission to serve students and families. We ask that anyone interested visit: Transportation / Bus Drivers Wanted (duvalschools.org) for hiring information.”
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Student Transportation of America:
“Student Transportation of America (STA) remains committed to our partners at Duval County Public Schools (DCPS). Our highest priority is always to provide DCPS students with safe and reliable transportation services. We continue to collaborate closely with the District to determine route assignments, address student support needs, and take any necessary steps to ensure all students have a positive experience on our buses.
“While seeking additional support from alternative transportation providers is not unusual for a District partnership, STA understands the importance of maintaining operational readiness. We have significantly invested in retention and recruitment initiatives to help resolve the staffing shortage as quickly as possible, including introducing full-time training staff members for more efficient new driver onboarding. STA has added more than 60 drivers since the start of the school year, and we are always looking to establish more dedicated route assignments to provide greater consistency in the student experience.
“We customize training based on each driver’s individual needs and the current needs of the market. To enhance our safe driving education efforts, STA provides an additional 12-hour training course for drivers and monitors that focuses on safely transporting students with disabilities and special needs.
“Our organization remains optimistic that with the continued dedication of our drivers, monitors, and staff, we can find a solution to fully meet the transit needs of Duval students.”